As Frederick Douglass once said, "I confess I love littleness in all things." These ironic and timeless tales are less horrifying than startling for their perfection and originality. There appear to be no prescriptions or standards for the short short horror. Each victim, each critical moment in time and place is unique and unlike its companions in the collection. And why not, when some of the authors are named Twain, Saki, Poe, Lovecraft, Hawthorne and Crane to name a few. Every tale is narrated by a voice that gives away nothing while it adds to the tension. Guaranteed to make you shiver, from laughter, dread or awe, this collection is an extended experience within the unexpected and the unpredictable. My favorite has to be Dark Wings by Phyllis Eisenstein, where the sight of a large bird in flight against a white moon, becomes an obsession with the strangest end a soaring climax I can recall in fiction of this length.
As the editors and contributors, Al Sarrantino and Martin H. Greenberg point out in the preface; this form, the short short story, is the hardest of all literary forms to perfect. Every word and every mark of punctuation is critical and must be exact. Though they appear brief and simple, they are about as effortless as say---flying. Just about every decade in the 20th century and many from the 19th are represented in some of the greatest literary giants. Giants of brevity and brilliance. Savor it, but definitely get a copy.